“Transparency has become a hygienefactor. People just expect it to be there”

The Dutch Food Retail Association(CBL) is one of the initiators of Fresh Upstream. Director Marc Jansen explains why his organization has taken this step. “Transparency has become a hygienefactor; it is no longer a nice to have for consumers, they just expect it to be there. And if that’s not the case, this will result in distrust . That makes Fresh Upstream’s mission a very relevant one. ”

According to Jansen, the fact that transparency has become a hygienefactor is due to the possibilities that  information technology and social media is providing us. “Thanks to the possibilities of the internet, people expect simplicity, transparency, speed and value in their interaction with companies. Besides that social media have contributed to the consumer’s further emancipation. The customer demand has changed fundamentally. “

Jansen sees that consumers want to know where their food originates from, how it is produced and how, for example, the animals were raised. “consider QR codes on products or a quality mark like On the way to planetproof. There is no way back. We will have to provide this more and in a more sophisticated  way. And easier! We must make it easier for consumers to get answers to their concerns. “

Fipronil crisis

But not only the consumer asks for  transparency. Government and NGO’s do the same. “All together we need a lot more information. There is still substantial room for improvement in the agricultural sectors in particular. Information is often fragmented, and communicated in various, awkward formats. As a result, monitoring the use of crop protection and veterinary medicines for example, is insufficient. Such information, for example about the active substances of agents, must become available in an open source. Government should also play a role here. Because only with transparent information concerning the use of all active components within the supply chain we can prevent another Fipronil crisis.”

In addition, based on transparency, companies can improve their sustainability efforts. They can, for example, prove reduced use of fertilizers or their degree of circularity. “Only this way you can prove that you are performing well. Moreover, it enables a company to fine tune its business operations. An entrepreneur is busy doing exactly that every day again and again. “

Light coercion

According to Jansen, farmers and gardeners are “reluctant in a healthy way”. He expects that some form of light coercion will be needed to get the supply chain moving. “The idea prevails that farmers  own their data and that their data are worth money. And that is true! But those data only become valuable  if there is a uniform way for data exchange. The alternative, individual parties that get started, each have their  own party, is not really an alternative. Nor for the government. We will have to tackle this smartly. Standardization is required. This drives my role in the Fresh Upstream initiative. “

The branch organization for supermarkets and food service companies will support the Fresh Upstream’s mission. “We will accomplish this by contributing our knowledge and expertise about supermarket organizations in the field of standardization and transparency. And we will encourage that the data that is available in the supply chain and at the government, will be made accessible for the consumer in a meaningful and relevant way.

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Over Fresh Upstream

De stichting Fresh Upstream werkt aan één digi-taal in de internationale agroketen. Doel is een transparante keten voor handelspartners, overheid en consument: van kas tot kassa, van boerderij tot bord. Begrijpelijke en toegankelijke informatiestandaarden via GS1 staan daarbij centraal. Fresh Upstream is in 2018 opgericht door FNLI, GroentenFruit Huis, Frug I Com, CBL, Nevedi, LTO Nederland en GS1 Nederland.